Why Trust Matters: The Moral of the “Eye-Poking” Capuchin Monkey


When political scientists talk about the importance of trust, they often reach for the literary stars. They pull out the big metaphors. They add some purple to their prose. Researcher Eric Uslaner once called social trust the “chicken soup” of social life. Sociologist Pamela Paxton has argued that trust is “the magic ingredient that makes social life possible.” One German academic was Teutonically blunt, declaring that “a complete absence of trust would prevent [one] even getting up in the morning.”


Social Trust Can Be Rebuilt: A Photo Essay


As I was working on my book The Leap, I often found myself in cocktail-type conversations, trying to explain my book on trust and social cohesion. People would listen to me talk and then often tell me something along the lines of: There’s nothing we can do to improve our faith in others. Our sense of community is gone. Once trust is broken, it can never be rebuilt. 


Interview with Michael Blanding, author of The Map Thief


Disgraced map dealer Forbes Smiley once told reporter Michael Blanding that he hoped that the stories about his thefts “would go away.” That might be so. But thankfully Blanding took up the case, telling a powerful story about the nature of crime and greed. I blurbed Blanding’s book called The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps with those words. Recently, I interviewed Blanding via email. A lightly edited transcript below.


The Simple Power of Tit for Tat


Why do we work with others? In many ways, the answer is simple. It’s about reciprocity. I do something for you. You do something for me, and often one of the easiest ways to build up faith in someone else is to exchange favors, to engage in reciprocity.


Educational Equity and Effectiveness


School finance reformers have long been divided into two camps. On one side, there are the advocates who argue for increased fiscal equity. They believe the primary issue concerning school finance is funding fairness and point to an abundance of evidence that shows high-poverty districts with needier students receive far less money than their wealthier counterparts.